The week that was: 15 April 2011
UK government amends Bill, US direct mailers to benefit through smartphones, and European emissions target exceeded… This week the UK government published a number of amendments to the Postal Services Bill, ensuring that Royal Mail can remain the sole provider of the universal service for at least the next ten years. The changes – which intends to “strengthen” the Bill – incorporates “feedback from MPs, Lords, Royal Mail, other postal operators and the Communication Workers Union, as well as other interested parties,” the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) said. As well as allowing private investment into Royal Mail, the Bill outlines that Post Office Ltd could move to a mutual ownership model, Ofcom will become the regulator to the UK postal industry, and the government will take on Royal Mail Group’s pension deficit. It has already been approved by the House of Commons and is currently being considered by the House of Lords. According to BIS, amendments also include: New powers for the regulator, Ofcom, to allow them to better monitor any potential threats to the universal service arising from end-to-end competition; and a new requirement on Ofcom to have regard to the need for the universal service provider to earn a reasonable commercial rate of return on the provision of that service. The amendments will be debated by Peers at the Report stage of the Bill, it was confirmed. A government statement said: “These changes will give further clarity to the regulatory regime and enable the regulator to strike the right balance between competition and safeguarding the universal service – ensuring that Royal Mail can continue to deliver to the UK’s 28m addresses, six days a week.”
Direct mailers are to see for themselves the benefits of linking smartphone technology with the physical mail, under a special promotion from the US Postal Service this summer. The operator is set to offer a special 3% discount in July and August for any letters or flats if they include two-dimensional mobile barcodes that can be read by consumer smartphones. Already in use within other sectors of print advertising, the barcodes – which include so-called Quick Response (QR) barcodes – allow a householder to scan items with their iPhone, BlackBerry or Android phones in order to access extra information. This might link them through to online content, special offers or competitions. The USPS hopes its summer sale will help to highlight the potential for mobile technology to be used in conjunction with the physical mail to offer better response rates for direct marketing campaigns. Thomas Foti, the Postal Service manager of marketing mail, told Post&Parcel: “We firmly believe that mobile barcodes add significant value to mail – they help increase response rates and they help establish relationships with those that don’t have necessarily already have a relationship with mail – for instance those in younger generations.” The 3% discount will apply to items in both First Class Mail and Standard Class Mail, sent using a permit imprint payment methods. But, to qualify for the lower postage rate, mailers must display the mobile barcodes either outside or within all mailpieces in a mailing, using the barcodes to “market, promote or educate” mail recipients – rather than for internal tracking purposes.
European postal operators participating in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Programme recorded a total reduction of 465,000 tonnes of CO2 collectively from 2007 to 2009. The results were revealed by PostEurop as a part of its 2010 Environmental Report. The 16 participating operators have contributed to a 15% reduction from 2007 to date, in which 2009 alone records a 13% reduction in emission. Based on a common CO2 measurement protocol established in April 2008, data collection and sharing was made possible for European Postal Operators. It was then that participating postal operators, representing approximately 75% of European postal mail volumes set a target to collectively reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 10% towards end of 2012. The 2010 Environmental Report, an independent audit, verified the data and reported that a significant reduction in CO2 emission was achieved in 2009 alone. “This is mainly due to postal operators switching from conventional to Green Electricity supply. The direct impact of just Green Electricity in 2009 accounts for 297,000 tonnes (approximately 63% of the total reduction achieved),” it confirmed. Commenting on the results, Stéphanie Scouppe, chairperson of PostEurop Environment Working Group, said: “2009 has been a remarkable year for environmental experts and the results speaks for itself. Without a doubt, this proves that we are on the right track and motivates us to work together with customers, supplier and other stakeholders.”
The World Mail Award shortlist was revealed this week. Check who has made the grade here!